Nearly a decade after his political reign ended, the 43rd American President, George W Bush, remains a polarising figure. Whether it’s the Iraq War or other things, for good or bad his legacy still remains. Even more powerful than him was Vice President Dick Cheney. His behind the scenes manoeuvring made him a sinister shadowy figure with high influence. A mix of comedy and drama by director Adam McKay, ‘Vice’ explores the man as he climbed the ladder to the highest office in the country.

Looking for a running mate in the lead up to the 2000 Presidential election, George W Bush (Sam Rockwell) chooses quiet Washington insider Dick Cheney (Christian Bale). A man of unlimited ambition and zealotry skills, Cheney enthusiastically enters the political fray. Supported by his equally powerful wife Lynne (Amy Adams), Cheney swiftly becomes a major player. Dealing with titanic egos from the likes of Donald Rumsfeld (Steve Carrell) as well as his own, the years test the mettle of Cheney’s ruthless cunning.

‘Vice’ is a powerful slice of story-telling strong in its bravery. Brave in that it depicts its subject warts and all. Where other movie biographies skim the surface of a person’s less than wonderful traits, ‘Vice’ charges forth with a study of warped principles and discarded friendships. This is all the more remarkable given McKay’s comedy background. Like any skilled director he teases out the humour from the direst of situations, making real life events feel as absurd as the decisions leading to them. His use of various cinematic styles to tell the tale also shows an expert movie craftsman.

None of this would work without Bale’s excellent performance. He embodies humanity to Cheney’s often monstrous persona, enabling the viewer to understand his motives. Adams is equally amazing as his partner in crime, just as willing to get down into the scrum of political milady. The musical score is a sensorial delight, effectively ramping up the drama. ‘Vice’ is one of those movies where even though you may not like where it’s going, you can’t help be fascinated where its destination terminates due to the solid screenplay.

‘Vice’ is a far from flattering portrait of a man some may not like, but the performances, direction and script generate magnetic viewing. It’s hard to believe it’s been over a decade since the events shown but the saying of ‘absolute power corrupts absolutely’ rings very true here.

Rating out of 10: 9

Mortal Engines

Films set in a post-apocalyptic world tend to be rather dour affairs. It would be under the circumstances but works such as ‘Mad Max’ and ‘Waterworld’ don’t bode well for humanity’s future. ‘Mortal Engines’ presents a more interesting take on the course the world may take. Its interpretation of a steampunk infused universe provides an eye-catching gloss with the hint of optimism showing the path ahead may not be so bleak.

In a world where entire cities are motorised and prey on each other, its inhabitants are continually cautious. Tom (Robert Sheehan) gets caught up in an assassination plot against powerful industrialist Thaddeus Valentine (Hugo Weaving). The would-be assassin, Hester (Hera Hilmar), blames Thaddeus for her mother’s death. Events swiftly unravel as the machinations of evil do their best to prevent unspeakable secrets from being discovered.

Based on Phillip Reeve’s novel ‘Mortal Engines’ is a collage of famous moments from other films. ‘Star Wars’ and the ‘Indiana Jones’ series receive nods amongst the dazzling CGI. Whilst such copying would sink similar productions, ‘Mortal Engines’ thrives due to its novel concept and fine performances. The screenplay and Christian Rivers’ strong direction ensure things feel fresh and move at a great pace. They assure you are fully invested in this odd universe of mechanical marvels and fully fleshed out characters.

Weaving has a grand time as a very wicked villain as does the rest of the cast who dive into the fantastical antics with gusto. The special effects and photography are excellent with the musical score pleasing to the ears. Although the story relies on contrived clichés it’s an amiable enough ride with the villainy and heroics captivating in equal measures. The imaginative scope and the film’s scale demand it be seen on a big screen with a genuinely tense race to the fiery finale.

Amidst a glut of sci-fi and fantasy films ‘Mortal Engines’ carves a solid place amongst the crowd. It is entertaining escapist fun without the cynical heart others have. Fans of such works should enjoy it with the steampunk movement sure to receive a boost from this magical caper.

Rating out of 10: 7